I interviewed Brittnie Andrew, a staff member for the Northwest Regional ESD Outdoor School at Camp Magruder. Here are her thoughts about leadership:
As a leader, my supervisor holds everyone to high expectations of professionalism. so we work to meet them. He trusts us to do our jobs correctly and doesn't micro-manage. He acknowledges when people are doing really well. When people have a suggestion for something that won't work, he gives specific examples of how it's been attempted in the past and what happened. And yet, he still allows people to try things out for themselves and learn by doing and by making mistakes. He projects "calm, cool, and collected" but behind the scenes, he works really hard to make it all happen. He's mindful of us as a staff and makes sure we're happy and healthy. He knows me and what I need to re-energize and to get the job done.
My leadership strength is in being supportive and a cheerleader. It makes a positive impact when you acknowledge and praise people for their contributions. It makes a huge difference because of the trickle-down effect. I give new staff a chance to add to the group, and we do lots of team building. Each season is different, and I want new people to be empowered to ideas and suggestions and to share them with us. I like our team to imagine all the possibilities and not be stuck in the rut of "it's always been this way".
I think leadership when working with teenagers and young adults means gaining respect because you get to know them. You know what works for them and you help them and build them up. You break the ice and create relationships; you make them laugh by being silly and being the adult at the same time. You talk to them as people, not as kids. People often see teenagers negatively or have a pre-conceived notion about them. I don't know them, but I want to, and they can see my interest is genuine. You have to be the first person to put yourself on the line.